Profit Ebbs at Novellus

The maker of semiconductor equipment reports a fourth-quarter profit fall from a year ago.
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Novellus Systems

(NVLS)

grew fourth-quarter revenue by nearly 8% year over year and beat Wall Street's earnings expectations by 4 cents.

Novellus, which makes semiconductor manufacturing equipment, on Wednesday posted a profit of $26.7 million, or 20 cents a share, on sales of $365.9 million. The company's EPS was reduced by restructuring and other charges totaling $12.6 million.

A year ago, the company earned $30.5 million, or 22 cents a share, on revenue of $339.7 million

In recent after-hour trading on Instinet, shares were off $1.02 cents, or 3.9%, to $25.50.

Discounting the charges, Novellus earned $33.5 million or 25 cents a share. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call were looking for a 21-cent profit on sales of $352.9 million.

Bookings were $416.7 million, up 18.7% sequentially. Shipments in the quarter totaled $354.2 million, up 12% sequentially.

The San Jose, Calif., company is expected to give guidance for the second quarter during a call with analysts late Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, market research firm Gartner predicted that the semiconductor capital equipment market will total $38.8 billion in 2006, a 14.3% increase over 2005. Analysts raised their forecast from their earlier projection in December of 8.6% growth in 2006.

There was more good news for the sector as shares of chip-making equipment company

Cymer

(CYMI)

surged to a 52-week high Wednesday after its

better-than-expected financial results and several bullish notes from investors.